WASHINGTON – Responding to the request for two fiscal year 2021 Arleigh-Burke class (DDG-51) destroyers —a ship built at Bath Iron Works in Maine—in the President’s FY 2021 budget request, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden released the following statement:
“Maine’s congressional delegation has worked together to authorize and secure funding for robust shipbuilding. We were extremely concerned at reports that the Department of Defense had considered cutting a destroyer from the FY2021 budget. Steady procurement of DDG-51 destroyers is important for our national security. At the same time, we strongly oppose the DoD’s plan to reduce the number of DDGs procured over a five-year time frame, which would seemingly be at odds with the congressionally mandated goal of building a 355-ship Navy. Congress has the final say on funding, and we will continue to advocate for the resources our military needs and support the hardworking men and women at BIW who build the highest quality ships for our Navy.”
The US Navy fleet currently has 294 battle force ships. Congress, President Trump, and the Navy have set to goal of reaching a 355-fleet by 2034. The President’s FY2021 budget provides $4 billion less for Navy shipbuilding than Congress provided in the current year. Although the budget request calls for two DDG-51s for FY21, consistent with last year’s out-year anticipated budget, it also proposes reducing the number of DDGs procured over a five-year timeframe compared to last year’s submission.
On January 6th, Senators Collins and King sent a joint letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper objecting to the Navy’s proposal to reduce its shipbuilding program. US Representatives Chellie Pingree (ME-01) and Jared Golden (ME-02) also sent a letter expressing their concerns to Secretary Esper.
Last month, Pingree and Golden invited the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee to tour Bath Iron Works and see first-hand why ‘Bath-built is best-built.’
The FY2020 defense funding bill supported funding for three DDG-51s and included a $390 million increase in advanced procurement funding for a down payment on an additional ship. Additionally, it included full funding for the DDG-1000 programs and the lead ship of the next-generation frigate program to be awarded sometime in 2020. BIW is also able to draw on the appropriation of a $130 million increase for shipyard infrastructure investment to make improvements to its digital design and shipbuilding technology.
The FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included several priorities for Mainers, including full authorization for DDG-51, DDG-1000, and FFG(X); a shipbuilding workforce study; and a pilot program to develop skilled technicians in the shipbuilding industry.
Senators Collins and King hold seats on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Armed Services Committee, respectively. In the US House, Congresswoman Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, and Congressman Golden is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.